There it is. 30 days of blogging, old school style!

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What’s old school style? Well, it’s when you turn up to the keyboard, stare at a blank screen and think, what am I going to write about today? What’s on my mind? What’s eating me upside that if I don’t get it out on the page, it’ll devour me. There’s no motive to sell. No SEO friendly posts. No editorial blogging calendar. There’s just showing up and bleeding onto the page.

Yeah, some days you write something halfway decent. Other days it’s total crap. And then there’s all the stuff in-between. You may only have one or 2 readers, but you don’t give a shit because it’s your blog, your means of self-expression, your truth. And if other people want to read it great, if not, well there are a million other blogs out there for them to read. Move along!

As I wrote the other day, it hasn’t always been easy to sit down and crank out something on the blog every day. On some days, my tank was just plain empty or I didn’t feel like having a conversation, not even an imaginary one (I like to imagine I’m talking with a friend when I write my posts).

There was only three us in the challenge (we lost four the day before the challenge started, which is a shame because I think they would have really benefitted from it) because if blogging every day helped me with one thing, it helped me to steal back my time from social media to apply to my own thing instead of being all cozy behind the walled gardens of Facebook and only being served up what FaceBook wants me to see.

I’ve been enjoying being a part of the IndieWeb Movement and making new friends through my micro.blog as well as on Mastodon (which largely came about because of my micro.blog syndicates there (as well as to Twitter (but Twitter is a different animal))).

Will I continue to blog every day? Probably not exclusively here. I suspect I’ll bounce between my three blogs – this one, my micro.blog, and my revived learning-oriented blog. So yeah I guess I will still be blogging every day, just not exclusively in one place. On the days I don’t feel like talking, I suspect I’ll only be on the micro.blog.

Now I need to finish up and get packing for my business trip to Munich tomorrow morning.

My hat’s off to my blogging buddy, Cathy, from way back in the day. We actually met online (and I’ve only seen her in real life once) and Dave, another Internet friend (whom I am yet to meet in person). This was his first time as a blogger. He doesn’t live a million miles away so perhaps will get together in real life and drink a beer of two together. And maybe Cathy will stop off in London when she hits Ireland (next year?) and we can spend the day together. Or since she likes mountains, we can maybe climb Snowdon together!

Until next year, this is me signing off from #BlogPals19

Peace!

Blogging for 28 days straight has been a little tough. There have been days that if I was not doing this challenge, I would not have created a post. I would have let myself get by with the excuse that I was too busy or too tired to blog.

But there is another reason. Sometimes you simply have nothing to say. Or like in real life, somedays you just don’t feel like talking to people. And to me, personal blogging is a conversation with others. So the days that I really struggled are the days where I just wanted to be inside my own head and not have to extend myself to talk to anyone one. When I blog, I imagine I’m speaking to someone. So if I’m not in the mood to “talk” it makes it hard for me to blog.

It’s like not wanting to go to the party that your friend is throwing but you feel like you have to go out of obligation to your friend!

The other thing is this: blogging or to blog is generally associated with writing. And in the current climate usually involves writing on a narrow topic or niche and generally to solve a particular problem unless it’s a news-oriented site then the point is to report the news. Whereas for me, I see blogging as a medium for self-expression and a vehicle for documenting your life. To me, a blog is like a public journal or diary where you capture your thoughts and observations about life in general and your own life in particular and share it with others. Personal blogs are like the watercoolers of the Internet – a place to gather to share stories about what you’ve been up to.

Stylistically, I’m partial to stream of consciousness, juxtapositions, and lyrical flow. And I’m also partial to using whichever medium feels best at the time, whether it’s writing, audio, video, drawing or photos and any combination thereof.

I like the idea of and the fluidity of microblogging with platforms like Twitter, micro.blog, Mastodon, or Tumblr. The IndieWeb Movement, of course, is encouraging people to use their blogs in the same way as you would Twitter or Tumblr. If you’re using WordPress I’d recommend the indieAuth plugin which enable your blog with up 20 different post formats.

This creates a real sense of using your blog as a documentary tool.

I guess the best tip I can offer is to understand why you blog? Your ‘why’ will dictate the format most appropriate to use to achieve your why. I suspect it’s also about your perception of blogging, whether it’s a formal tool, or informal tool and whether you believe people will fnd what you have to say interesting or not. As a blogger, these are things you’ll have to recocile with yourself.

I just bought one of Hugh Macleod’s old books, Blogging in Your Underwear. It’s not his best work, but he makes some good motivational points about blogging and what it stands for or could stand for. He tells a little story about an interview he watched of Henry Rollins, the punk rocker and performance artist:

I was wtaching Henry Rollins being interviewed on TV by some clever media twinkie. Twinkie was criticising Rollins about his new work, saying something like, why did you do it this way, why didn’t you do it your old, normal way, will your fans approve of this new direction, yada yada, yada…Rollins just looked at Twinkie and said, ‘I thought rock ‘n’ roll was about Freedom…?

And that’s exactly what the Internet and blogging in about – Freedom, and using your computer instead of a guitar to share your truth!

 

What’s been good about this 30-day challenge is that it has forced me to be still for a few minutes and contribute to my own blog, which is in effect, contributing to my story. What do I mean by that? Let’s face it I’m not writing earth-shattering posts. I’m not even solving some great problem or servicing a need. But what I am doing is taking a snapshot of what’s on my mind at the time I sit down to write a post. And over time, all those snapshots will tell parts of my story. It’s like a multimedia scrapbook of my life and thoughts. Little pieces of my life juxtaposed together that when looked at as a whole, contribute to a larger narrative.

One of the goals of the IndieWeb Movement is to encourage people to post everything to their blog and the syndicate out. I haven’t quite got there yet, apart from syndicating to Twitter (automatically using WordPress’s native syndication tool), Facebook (which I have to do manually because FB restricted API access to their site are no longer allow 3rd party posting to the profile. They didn’t under the guise of protecting your privacy so things like Cambridge Analytica can’t happen, it if dig a little deeper, it now forces you to have to go on Facebook to post, which of course gives them the opportunity to serve you up some adverts, boost their user stats which they use to sell advertising. And I get that. It’s a company, and companies exist to make money. But it’s a shining example of why you want to control your own space by having your own blog (that you own) not subject to algorithms and the whims of company who might suddenly changed their rules or bail on you completely (take a look at google graveyard and all the web apps they’ve abandoned over the years, some of which I really liked using).

Plus if you’re blog acts as your central hub, then you have everything in one place. Your blog becomes your basecamp. Because you own it, you don’t have to worry about it going the way of MySpace or Google + and other social media platforms that have come and gone over the years.

Viva la IndieWeb Movement!

P.S. They say it takes 3 weeks to form a new habit. Well, it’s Day 21 of our little blogging challenge so here’s to a new habit! #BlogPals19

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Blogging is cool, isn’t it? I’ve enjoyed reading your blog posts each day, and getting a glimpse into your inner worlds and getting to see the world through your eyes. I’ve traveled to different parts of the world through your blogs and pictures. I’ve seen the past. Got glimpses of the future. And we’re just 11 days into the project.

Blogging is a whole different animal when you step outside of the commercial or stylised norm and use the medium, instead, as a means of self-expression and exploration. And it’s yours. Facebook doesn’t own it. Twitter doesn’t own it. You don’t grovel at the feet of the almighty algorithms or the whims of some benevolent tech god. It’s your platform to publish whatever you want, however, you want. It’s your platform.

 

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Perspective, always!

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I don’t know if you take advantage of the WordPress syndication tools or not, but you should if you don’t. The goal is to publish everything from your blog and then syndicate out to all of these other platforms. At present, I’m only automatically syndicating out to Twitter. Facebook (at their whim) turned off the API to allow you to automatically syndicate to profile, but you can still auto-syndicate out to your page if you have one.

I still need to fix the IndieAuth plugin so I can then start tweeting from the blog as well. There are a few other apps I need to tweak as well so that I’m totally pushing out from the blog.

I know that this sort of self-publishing isn’t necessarily a suitable setup for people who’s blogs are a commercial marketing tool. That’s a whole other animal with a different set of rules and structures and measures. If commerce is your aim, then my suggestion would be to have two blogs – a personal blog and a commercial blog. Ha. I know those taking part in this 30-Day challenge are probably thinking it’s hard enough finding the time to post to one blog, let alone two!

But your commercial blog will have a different purpose and therefore a different rhythm. I’m about to start another blog to support my digital learning aspirations and my current workplace learning practice. On there I will niche. On there I will be much more focused.

Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying #BlogPals19

C

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Why stand on a silent platform? Zach de la Rocha yells out on Township Rebellion.

And I agree. This is the greatest time in history to get your voice heard around the world in whatever medium suits your fancy. Do you want to write? Start a blog. Do you want to make films or have your own TV show? Start a YouTube Channel. Do you like radio? Start a podcast! Do you want to be a photographer, a fitness model, artist, illustrator? Start an Instagram account. Do you Want to be a musician? Start a Soundcloud account. There is no limit on your means of self-expression.

I wrote my first blog post on the 8th of February 2004. There was a real sense of community then, in the blogging world, mainly because it was new and people were still trying to figure out blogging’s potential. It was more personal then too. But once someone figured out they could make money from blogging, the game started to change. And once people got more comfortable with e-commerce (giving they’re credit card detail over the internet) the game changed for good.

Then social media came along and like TV killed the radio, social media killed personal blogging.

Commercial blogging still managed to thrive. The likes of Huffington Post, Tech Crunch, The Dredge Report, Gawker (now defunct) and others like them, kept blogging alive, albeit with a different cultural flavour. The days of the solo blogger (alone in his or her room) bleeding their heart and soul out into the Internet were gone. The CopyBlogger crowd moved in with the promise that if you niched well and nailed your SEO, then you could quit your day job and be a full-time blogger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If you wanted to blog for the love of blogging, you took your game over to social media ‘cause that’s where the eyeballs are. And that’s fine too. But why not write from your own blog and syndicate out, which is what the IndieWeb Movement is partially about. There’s also the fight against having your data harvested and sold to any bidder and then fed back to you via algorithms designed to make you buy more goods and services that (in a Fight Club sort of way) you probably don’t need.

If you have a blog that is sat gathering dust because you fell for the rhetoric that blogging is dead or because you thought (in reference to social media) if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and left for the promise-land of ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’ and ‘rewteets’, then dust it off, and join the IndieWeb Movement. Your blog deserves it!

Side note: Most blogs, these days, look the same -clean, neat, colour coordinated. Remember when they used to look like this?

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Travel reminds me that people are pretty much all the same regardless of where you go or what country you’re in. Everywhere we’re trying to survive and that breaks down to 3 things – feeding, fucking, and fighting. Everything else is just a sideshow or a way to kill time between the 3 F’s.

These are the kinds of thoughts I have at 3:30 in the morning.

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My journey to Madrid was not a direct one. For some reason, nothing was flying out of the UK and going directly to Madrid. My only options were to fly to Frankfurt or fly to Brussels and then onto Madrid. I have a soft spot in my heart for Germans. I lived in the country for 3 years. I grew fond of the people and the place and the culture. Plus I love pretzels like the Germans love pretzels. And since I had an hour layover in Frankfurt I thought I’d seize the opportunity to grab a couple of them:

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So it’s day one of #blogpals19 and because I’m not one for always choosing the easy route, I didn’t hesitate to jump into this challenge knowing that my first 4 days of the challenge were going to be a challenge because I’m away from my home base on a business trip!

But that doesn’t matter. It’s a great opportunity to practice my mobile blogging chops. I’m using my iPhone 8+ to type this out as I taxi down the runway on LH 1112 to Madrid. I love having a small computer in my hand capable of being a one-stop media creation shop. I can write. I can record and edit audio. I can shoot and edit video. I can take pictures and edit them. I can broadcast live video and live radio. In short, I have the means of total media production in the palm of my hand. I know I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard already, but man this stuff excites the hell out of me. I get fired up every time I think about the power we carry around in our pockets!

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We’ve done a pretty good job of domesticating humans. Law and order are prevalent in most of the civilised world. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Frankfurt or Madrid people, on the whole, behave the same – we greet each other, respect each other’s space and property. We stand up and sit down when we’re told. We stand in line. We pay for goods and services. We get up, go to work, watch a little TV, watch the news, complain about politics. We eat. We sleep. And we get up and do it all again the next day, until we eventually die.

We are well trained domesticated primates.

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The only thing that separates us from the beasts is our imagination and wild ass capacity for creativity. So don’t be a robot. Create stuff. Express yourself in you’re own unique way.

The world doesn’t need another automaton.

It needs YOU – in all your beauty and glory.

Go make something!

I felt compelled to stay up late watching 80s videos. So many teenage memories flooded through my half-baked brain. Not such a great idea when you’re on the backside of 50 wondering where all the time went. Watching these videos reminded me of time when all I wanted to do was rule the world. Back then, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I knew how everything worked. I had it all figured out.

Of course now I’m not so sure anymore.

I picked up a copy of Hadley Freeman’s book, Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn from Movies and More. I wanted to see what lessons I should have learned, which now elude me.

Last night, I turned to Beverly Hills Cop for some answers. Really I just wanted some light entertainment and BHC is easily my favourite Eddie Murphy movie. But there were lessons:

  • Don’t always play by the rules
  • Rules were made to be broken
  • Use you intution
  • Heart over head
  • And sometimes, the ends do justify the means!

Today, one of my normal walks turned into a little mini-adventure on account of the floods produced by all this rain we’ve had over the past few days.

It started off innocent enough:

Then it heated up a little:

And finally it came to this:

All in a good Sunday.

I have the crew together who are doing a 30 Day blogging challenge with me that starts on 4 November. The folks include:

Cathy – my long-time blogging buddy

Zoltan – Mr bassplayer extrodinaire

Aimee – my collaboration partner in crime

Dave – my Twitter buddy

Raine – a fellow trainer who goes waaaaay back to our MLHSBC days!

So we have some blogging newbies, some veterans, and some inbetweeners. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

 

I played PUBG with Jeremy last night. It’s been 142 days since I last played. 1) where does the time go? 2) Shows you how much of a gamer I am!???? I like games, but always feel guilty if i whittle away hours playing them. In my head, I keep thinking how many pages I could have read in those hours I spent playing? I know games are important too, but it’s hard to shake the notion that games, while pleasant to play, are time wasting activity.

Which brings me to Monday morning and thinking how can I be ridiculously productive today?

A couple of responses I got back from the crowd:


and

and

Over the weekend, I worked through the question of how to be as close to the open web as possible, and by that I mean how to extract myself from the walled gardens like Facebook and Twitter and all the rest, and use open sourced software and play in places whose business model isn’t driven by algorithms that exploit my personal data?

Micro.blog is one solution. I have a presence there. Also @TheEinarkist recommended Riot (which I’ve yet to sign up for) and PeerTube and Mastodon. I’ll explore all of these at some point. I have set up a micro.blog account if you want to check that out. The community there have been very welcoming so far.

All of this is closely related to my return to personal blogging versus blogging as a content marketing channel for business. The reason I started blogging in the first place was a channel for self-expression. Then the idea that you could make money from blogging kept oozing in through the seams as marketers began to dominate the social web bent on convincing people that even the Average Joe or Jane could quit their jobs and become full-time bloggers. I’ve always been more about readership than money (although a couple of pennies would be nice to pay for hosting and stuff, so click on those darn amazon affiliate links when I post them!). The hook that I always bit on the marketing line was “if you niche they will come.” Not fully realising until now that as a personal blogger, my niche is me!

Personal blogging is blogging about the things you care about and find interesting. And maybe along the way, you’ll bump into people who care about the same things. So that is where I’m at now with all this blogging stuff – writing about the stuff that interests me and connecting with other bloggers who are into the same thing.

Which brings me back to the open web. I’m on a hunt to find other bloggers and such who are outsiders like me. Drop me a link to your blog in the comments.

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I’ve been in a kind of holding pattern over the last several days as I process all the words I’ve been reading about content curation and blogging and the state of blogging in general. I’m gearing up of course for another crack at this blogging thing as a central point of contact on the social web. There’s a retraction happening away from newsfeeds on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Facebook itself is moving away from the feed and re-routing people’s attention toward groups and communities. WhatsApp, another Facebook-owned product, is on the rise as more people are starting WhatsApp groups and using the group as the social space to connect with friends and like-minded people. Public newsfeeds have become toxic, filled with political strife, hate, and just general nonsense (that’s an extreme generalisation, I personally spend a lot of time on Twitter, not so much Facebook, scrolling my various newsfeeds…my theory is this, the quality of your newsfeed is directly proportional to the quality of the updates you find in your feed. if you don’t like what someone is posting, unfollow them!)

What dominates the web and what does that say about us as a collective species. A quick scan down the list of the top 50 blogs and you’ll find that it’s dominated by fashion and beauty, politics, celebrity gossip and entertainment, tech, gaming, travel, and marketing-oriented blogs. What about the rest of the human experience? Yes, if you look in the right places and search with intent, you can find blogs on all sorts of things, but they fall out of centre mass and therefore not “popular.”

Enter Facebook, which seems to be the homepage of the Internet these days, much like AOL was back in the day. According to the stats, Facebook has enough people on it that if it was a country, it would be like the 4th or 5th largest country in the world! That’s a lot of people.

In our time-strapped, busy lives, Facebook seemingly makes things easy. You can just go there and news and information comes to you (served up by Facebook’s algorithms of course, which feeds you more and more of what Facebook says you like, and occasionally for sinister purposes of its own, what Facebook wants you to see!)

I don’t really like Facebook. I’m there out of FOMO. I’m mean 5 billion people are there, something must be going on, right?!

But for finding interesting things to read, watch, and listen too, I use other sources mainly Twitter, Feedly, Start me, Flipbook, my own listening engine set-up, and LinkedIn. I post a lot, i.e. add to the noise on Facebook, but I don’t source my reading material there.

How’s this for strap-line for the blog:

a non-niched, hypertext adventure blog

So here we are in our modern culture where experience is always secondhand, planned and described by someone else in advance. Occasionally, we have an authentic experience, but even then it’s tainted by our self-consciousness and the stuff that’s been shoveled in from birth. We are doomed to an imitation of life, caught in Baudrillard’s  Sumulcra and Simulation.

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Poor man, he had no fate. 

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I do sometimes feel like my life is a caricature of what a real-life could be. These kinds of conversations don’t usually go down well in the middle of the afternoon while you’re choking down a turkey pretzel sandwich. Thank god for the coffee though. Coffee makes life bearable, most of the time. Of course, I’m exaggerating here, but that happens when you’re riding a train of lies you can’t jump off of. If you believe art is truth, you’d be wrong; art is a lie that enables you to recognise the truth. Whenever I try to go for the truth straight, I inevitably miss the mark. I have to rely on this blog of half-truths to get me by. Good thing I’m not attached to my identity, that would be a recipe for disaster.

“Life is like a dream and, although we appear to be separate individuals in the life-dream, in reality, there is one awareness dreaming itself to be everyone and everything, and meeting itself in all its various forms. “

They’ll burn you at the stake if you believe that. For sure as shit, the one thing unconscious people hate, it’s being told they are unconscious.

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Trump is definitely not playing with a full deck, but then we knew that already.  It’s beyond scary some of the things he’s been up to lately. But you know, from down here in the mud, he’s not alone in history as a mentally deranged ruler with the power of life and death at his fingertips. History is filled with them. Or maybe the guy is just misunderstood and he’s thinking:

“All right, they think I’m the bad kid. I’ll show them how bad I can be. “

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Maharaj’s questioner asked: if on all sides I hear that freedom from desire and inclinations is the first condition of self-realisation, does it mean I should abstain from doing anything? After all ignorance of oneself causes desires and desires perpetuate ignorance. A circle you cannot help but get caught up in, and almost impossible to escape.

M’s answer: you cannot! What goes on must go on. if you stop suddenly, you will crash.

I seem to crash like every other month.

The crash last until I remember it’s not worth yearning to live in a world you already live in.

Getting meta on you for a second.

One of the things I’ve been working on of the past couple of weeks is my blogging workflow. Admittedly I’ve been focusing on the Newsletter (which, by the way, if you haven’t signed up for it, you should. I’ve renamed it Eclectically Curios to reflect where I’m going with the whole “learn something new everyday” motif). I’m 23 issues in and feel relative happy with the direction it’s taking.

Now to integrate the newsletter and the blog…

Because, despite all of the rhetoric about blogging being dead, I believe the blog is alive and well – for some. And yeah, while the good old days of personal blogging, where everyone pretty much just bled their hearts out onto the screen (they do that on social media now), may be gone, blogging is not dead, it has just evolved.

And I believe it’s about to evolve again as more and more articles and blogposts are throwing the question out there, is social media dying? Plus a number of high profile bloggers back in the day, who jumped ship for social media, are now hinting at returning back to personal blogging in attempt to recapture the blogosphere of the late 90’s early 2000’s.

Of course there is talk that people are turning to closed networks on platforms like WhatsApp, which last year broke the 1.5 billion active monthly users mark. And there are others like Messenger and Telegram, and for the more techie, security caution types, there’s Wire. Of course, being the geek I am, I have a presence on all of them.

I like the questions and conclusions that long-time blogger, Jason Kottke lays out:

Maybe we need to ask ourselves, what was it that we wanted from the blogosphere in the first place? Was it a career? Was it just a place to write and be read by somebody, anybody? Was it a community? Maybe it began as one thing and turned into another. That’s OK! But I don’t think we can treat the blogosphere as a settled thing, when it was in fact never settled at all. Just as social media remains unsettled. Its fate has not been written yet. We’re the ones who’ll have to write it.

Ok, so back to the blogging newsletter things. Knowing that I have limited time (don’t we all), I have to sort out how the blog and the personal newsletter play nicely together without either taking up too much time and the other dying of neglect.

My thinking at the moment is to have the personal newsletter take the lead role and the blog, the supporting role. I haven’t quite worked it out completely, but my initial thoughts are the newsletter is a more personal link from me to you, while the blog is my Internet interface, where, like Rome, all of my connections lead to.

Anyway, that’s the state of affairs for whatever this is that I’m doing.

By the way, I’m writing this in MarsEdit 4.0, a web editing app that allows my to create my posts on or offline. I’m trying it out as a part of nailing down my workflow. The two main features that I like is the ability to compose blogposts in something other than the browser or copying and pasting from Word. The other neat feature is the Safari extension that lets you create a post from an article i’m reading, like what I do with the Revue powered newsletter. That should save me a load of time in my seek, sense, and share mode.